According to multiple reports, former Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees infielder Luis Cruz has chosen to sign with the Lotte Marines of Japan’s Pacific League.
Cruz appeared in 61 games during the 2013 season with both LA and New York, and he was given 187 plate appearances. However, Cruz struggled mightily at the plate last season, posting a slash line of .145/.190/.179 with just 1 home run and 18 runs scored. He is known as a high-end defensive player (which can be supported by numerous advanced metrics), but not even that above-average effort could keep him from posting a -0.3 WAR according to FanGraphs.
It’s a bit of a shock to see Cruz forced to go overseas (for only a 1-year, $750,000 reported contract) just one calendar year after he produced 2.4 WAR with the Dodgers in 2012, but that is an indication of how fickle baseball can be. At 29 years old, Cruz could conceivably come back to the US for employment if he can right himself at the plate, and when you’ve posted a 107 wRC+ over a half-season of baseball in the big leagues, the talent is clearly there.
We will continue to monitor Cruz’s progress, but for teams looking at the free agent pool in search of utility infield help, the list is one name shorter.